Will we follow Qld and dump recycling bins?
OUR local councils have been forced to re-think the way they dispose of household waste, but nothing as radical as Ipswich, which is getting rid of its recycling bins.
Until last year, most of the developed world's recycling, including the Northern Rivers, was sent to China for re-manufacture.
But the majority of Australian Material Recovery Facilities (AMF) cannot comply with the new conditions China has imposed on imported recyclables.
On Wednesday, Ipswich City Council made waves when it announced its yellow bin rubbish would now go straight to landfill.
The council said its focus would be on waste reduction while it prepared to call tenders to bid on waste-to-energy projects.
Meanwhile, Mindarie Regional Council in Western Australia is trialling 20 transparent rubbish bins in its Face Your Waste campaign to encourage residents to consider how much rubbish they create.
The council's chief exective Gunther Hoppe said the bins were "conversation starters".
How does your council stack up?
Lismore said China's policy shift was forcing it to look at ways to process onshore.
Business development co-ordinator Danielle Hanigan said an optical sorter at its material recovery facility (MRF) allowed for the two main plastic streams to be sorted more efficiently, making it easier to sell in Australia.
"Staff now spend more time sorting materials to achieve clean recycling streams and the end product has dropped in price, impacting the MRF's overall profitability," she said.
Ms Hanigan said they had found markets for most recycled materials and stockpiled others. "Long term we are investigating how we can completely close the loop on recycling in the future."
Ballina will continue to send its recyclable materials to Lismore City Council's recycling centre.
Manager for open spaces and resource recovery Cheyne Willebrands said there were no plans to change this agreement and he encouraged residents to continue recycling.
Mr Willebrands said while the recycling industry was under "immense pressure", the council would try to absorb any increase in recycling costs.
Byron Shire Council team leader resource recovery and quarry Lloyd Isaacson said the council was fortunate because it sent kerbside recycling to Lismore City Council's state-of-the-art recycling centre.
"Recyclables collected from the yellow bin every fortnight will continue to be taken and managed in Lismore," he said.
Kyogle Shire Council acting general manager Marcus Schintler said residents should continue to recycle.
"This is a global issue, and we are discussing it with our regional partners but ... it's business as usual," he said.
Kyogle Shire Council's household recyclables are taken to a contractor-run resource recovery centre at Chinderah.
Last month, the council's general manager Vaughan Macdonald said the Richmond Valley was lucky most of its waste was sent to Lismore's MRF.
He said the real challenge was finding homes for these products in the short term.
At the April meeting, Mayor Robert Mustow said the state government levy on waste must be reassessed and he planned to meet with Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Hogan to discuss the issues.
"Twenty per cent of what they collect out of our garbage levy is returned to local government; what they do with the other 80 per cent has to be looked at," he said.
Tweed Shire Council's unit coordinator for waste management Rod Dawson said the shire's cost of recycling might increase in the future.
The Tweed's recyclables - 11,000 tonnes a year - go to the contractor-run resource recovery centre at Chinderah.
But Mr Dawson said councils would benefit from recent container deposit legislation, which would help offset "the potential cost increase" for recycling.
Waste operations manager Wes Knight said glass, metals and cardboard was sent to Brisbane; paper and plastic had been going to China.